About 20 years ago, I began doing endurance races – long hikes, bike rides, marathons, triathlons, etc. I’m no great athlete, and I completely buy into the concept that the tortoise wins the race. But something propelled me to race anyway. Perhaps it was hoping to keep in shape with three little boys running around or as a way to help my mental / emotional shadows fade.
In the first 20% of the event, adrenaline kicks in, and I power forward. And then in the great middle 60%, fatigue comes, boredom enters, energy leaves. Those negative voices in my head become very loud. I can’t go back, and the end is nowhere in sight.
I feel like that’s where I am right now and where we are as a country, in the middle of a very long race that we weren’t expecting. We are tired, and it is dark. And this is where true courage comes. From the power of our core, determination comes from our hyper focus on the steps in front of us. If we take one step at a time, it’s almost as if we can forget about the past or the future. The focus is just to keep going forward. There’s no energy for anger or reflection or what ifs.
Those thoughts will do little to serve us right now. In this amorphous middle of our current race, we need more self-care and more focus on the present to prevent us from stopping, from giving in or giving up. Deep inside, we must keep believing that light will come if only we can take one step in front of the other.
“When there is nothing left except the will which says to you hold on,” as Rudyard Kipling wrote.
When we do see the light in the distance, even if it’s just a moment of laughter, energy comes and we can keep going for the last 20%. Out of nowhere, more energy comes. We find the strength and determination to make it.
Stories, myths and legends have taught us that if we are determined to keep going, our faith will be restored. I think of Shackleton and his crew of men who survived two years in Antarctica after their ship sank, or the belief in the deeper, deeper magic of Aslan, the Lion, in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, the embodiment of all that is good and just.
Yes, we may feel in the middle without much to hold on to. Now is the time to support each other more than ever to take another step forward. The light will come along with real, visceral hugs.
To the daily practice of building our core energy and walking forward with awareness, intention and gratitude.